Ingredients: Eklego Design plus Amina K. Instructions: Mix the contemporary touch of a Cairo-based interior design firm with a young designer’s refreshing and fashionable fabric infusions. The recipe, challenging and experimental, cooks up a tasteful and original collection of home and table accessories.
Eklego Design was given birth to by interior designer Hedayat Islam and architect Dina el-Khachab. After five years of architecture and interior design activities, Eklego began to explore retail with the inauguration of its first furniture and accessories showroom in 2005.
Intelligence, originality and functionality spell out Eklego’s vision for the home, kitchen, office and garden. “Our aim for the next few years is to establish Eklego as a national brand that stands for original and contemporary Egyptian design,” says marketing manager Hala Saeed.
Eklego’s philosophy is to take its name–the Greek origin of the word eclectic–quite literally, drawing upon a variety of different styles and cultures. Saeed explains that the company encourages diversity: “Eklego promotes interdisciplinary design, where integrating different techniques, materials, and ideas lead to products that are new, original, and hold a story.”
Amina Khalil’s designs are more commonly worn on Cairo’s streets by fashion-oriented individuals who like to flaunt an unorthodox, modernly-oriental look. But after working with Eklego and breaking into the dining room, the living room, and the bedroom, Amina K’s brand name is flourishing in the interior design sector as well.
Khalil’s flair for fashion made her the perfect candidate for collaboration, according to Saeed: “The young and talented designer brings a unique approach to creating a modern Egyptian style and character.” Amina K’s designs borrow from traditional fabrics and patterns, adding a modern twist here and a fresh stitch there, rendering clothes and accessories that feature vibrant Eastern culture and a bold Western style.
Eklego’s collaboration with Amina K was smooth, as both designers share a similar philosophy. The duo grab inspiration from “traditional sources, interpreting them in a way that makes it original, contemporary and livable for today’s consumer.” The result: an exclusive line of home accessories which cry out oriental, modern and striking.
Saeed says Amina K brought to the project a love of pattern and texture which proved extremely valuable. “We decided to use a lot of her signature patchwork, bright colors and contrasting patterns, and incorporate them in fun ways into various home accessories like tableware, poufs, beanbags and throw pillows.”
Approached by the Eklego designers, Amina K was intrigued by the opportunity to play around with her style for the sake of producing a unique line of home accessories. “I was given the freedom to maintain my style, but I also had the chance to play around with patches and fabrics,” she says.
Color selection was no easy task. “We spent a long time choosing a wide range of colors to suit different tastes and house styles,” recalls Amina K. They ended up with a dynamic set of fabrics, with customers able to choose from bright oranges to shades of grey.
While Amina K was free to create and innovate using her own choice of fabrics, Eklego provided much-needed support in terms of marketing, pricing, and targeting.
Guided by Eklego, Amina K molded her designs so they would dress homes rather than bodies. Accustomed to designing for the human body in all its shapes and forms, Amina K found that when her designs had to fit a flat-surfaced table, matters became a little more challenging. “I had to be extra careful with the quality of the stitches.”
The Eklego/Amina K recipe for fashionable yet oriental home accessories was met with positive reviews. “Consumers in Egypt are hungry for design that speaks to them, that reflects a local aesthetic but at the same time is contemporary and cosmopolitan, as many of our customers are,” says Saeed.
Alongside the Amina K collaboration, Eklego has joined forces with two other talented designers to produce innovative and culture-laden designs, developing collections of artwork and accessories with photographer Zein Khalifa, and hand-crafted wood and mother-of-pearl tables with Egypt-based Syrian designer Sima Diab.
Zein Khalifa’s collection, dubbed “Ahwa” (“Coffee”), will take off this summer. According to Saeed, the collaboration yielded “artwork, coasters and trays that feature traditional Egyptian utensils and objects used to make and drink coffee and tea, a great Egyptian pastime.”
This collection, as well as Amina K’s home accessories and a brand new Eklego furniture and sofa set, will all be available at the recently launched Eklego flagship store in Designopolis, as well as at the Eklego Zamalek showroom, and at their summer location in the Diplomats’ compound on the North Coast, remaining open until August. Amina K also has a location set up for the summer in Hacienda compound’s White Mall.